Avoiding an American ‘Lost decade’

“What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words ‘by other means’.”

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Note:  This is the second in a series; you can see the first article directly below this one.
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November 30.  Where do we go from here?  We’ve already established that this is not a typical business cycle and this recession falls out of scope of previous recessions. Even the Great Depression was typical in the sense that it set off a worldwide fall in demand and productivity. It is now widely understood that while government intervention did stop the catastrophic collapse of the global economy, this intervention did little to revitalize global economic growth which did not resume until the onset of World War II.

This post first appeared on TheHill.com

Now, fast forward to September 2008 and months following shortly thereafter. There is wide agreement that the direct and dramatic Bush/Obama interventions did, indeed, prevent a global economic collapse. However, for many nations, including the U.S., the revitalization has yet to occur. While the stimulus spending saved many jobs in the public sector, few jobs were created in the private or wealth-creating sector. In retrospect it now appears that the stimulus was the equivalent to eating empty calories when hungry; a temporary rise in blood sugar without sustained nutrition.

This lack of wealth-building focus has led to a weak economic performance of 2.4 percent projected growth in GDP, hardly what one expects after such spending. (This growth rate has already been revised downward to 1.6 percent in the last quarter.) If this scenario does play out as expected, the eight million lost jobs will be replaced with new ones — by the 2020 time frame. By way of comparison, the “Reagan Recovery” created over 11,000,000 new jobs with four years.

While President Obama’s economic policies and overall execution of leadership is the current focus of many commentators, it remains a fact that this situation didn’t sneak up on us. The United States manufacturing sector has declined as a percentage of non-farm employment from about 30 percent in 1950 to just 9.27 percent in 2010, according to the October estimate of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, an underlying statistic is that the U.S. has been losing not just manufacturing jobs, but entire factories, over 40,000 of them since 2000. The ramifications here go far beyond the manufacturing sector itself. Indeed, by some estimates, there is a 15-1 multiplier between other jobs (including manufacturing and service) and each manufacturing position. Therefore, this unprecedented loss of an industrial base and its concomitant plethora of supporting positions leave a greatly reduced platform upon which to launch a successful and timely recovery.

And so the question remains: Where do we go from here?

First, take a deep breath, look in the mirror and repeat; the world is different from what it was in 1982 and wishing and acting like it was the same will not bring those lost manufacturing jobs back. No matter what we do, trying to recapture global leadership in industries where the average U.S. salary (excluding benefits) is over $20/hr where the similar cost in China or Mexico is between $2-$6/hr is a losing proposition. This is not to say that the U.S. should not continue to innovate and look to manufacture world-class products, only that we will have to pick our battles in places where we have a strategic competence and a willingness to compete. Specifically, management must be willing to continually analyze each process for best in class behaviors and continually work to improve in order to maintain a leadership position.

Second, focus strategic investment in industries where the U.S. has a substantial lead or could develop one in future. Good examples here are in the area of information technology, where private investment continues to create new enterprises and wealth and “green technology” whose future is yet to unfold. We need to remind ourselves of the effectiveness of the U.S. Space Program, not only in accomplishing its primary mission, but creating entire industries and market that are still returning value to this day.

Third, fully accept that the old manufacturing jobs will not be repatriated and implement a program that will both create true value for the economy while putting people back to work. In past recessions, workers were typically called back to their jobs as the economy improved. This time however, with the loss of so many factories, the jobs platform is significantly smaller and is unable to support the type of recovery we have seen in the past. Now, we must both create jobs in new markets and industries as well as find employment for those whose skill base will not readily transfer to the new jobs platform(s).

A good example of this is the proposal by the Center for American Progress that outlines a plan to develop an energy efficiency industry to retrofit approximately 40 percent of the country’s buildings (approximately 50 million structures) within the next decade. This would require more than $500 billion in public and private investment and create over 600,000 “sustainable” jobs. Under the plan, energy use in those buildings would be reduced up to 40 percent and generate between $32 billion and $64 billion in annual consumer savings. Those savings would be used to re-pay the construction loans that would support the program.

This type of program would both create private sector jobs and help re-build U.S. infrastructure for the next five decades, all the while creating a buffer between the current economic environment and the one that will emerge.

One word of caution: we need a dozen or more initiatives of this kind to even come close to replacing the 8,000,000 lost jobs.

Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Edward ML Peters is CEO of Dallas-based OpenConnect Systems. Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.

A Recession Neither Great Nor Small

What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words ‘by other means’.”

.

Note:  This is the First in a series; you can see the second article directly above this one.


This post first appeared on TheHill.com

November 3, 2010.  It is about time that we admit that what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words “by other means”.

Originally alluded to as a “Financial Tsunami” or “Financial Meltdown,” the major global media seem to have gained a consensus on “The Great Recession”. In the beginning, most comparisons were being made to the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s, more familiarly known, simply, as “The Depression” in the same way that many still refer to World War II as “The War”. But even these comparisons frequently ended up referring to the recession of 1982, yet another so-called “Great Recession”.
Our recent analysis has shown that while the major print and electronic media have settled upon “Great Recession”, the rest of the Internet, blogosphere and social media world have largely eschewed the term. We believe the difficulty here stems from the fact that this economic crisis is difficult to express in words because it does not resemble any economic crisis in recent memory — but rather a crisis of another sort.

“On War” is one of the most influential books on military strategy of all time. Written by Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831), it recorded one of his most respected tenets, “War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means,” which is frequently abbreviated to “War is diplomacy carried out by other means’.

We believe that the reason the “Great Recession” label does not now fit is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out “by other means”.

This fact has entrapped two U.S. presidents, from radically diverging political viewpoints, in the same dilemma: describing an economic phenomenon, that doesn’t play by the old rules. Hence, the difficulty experienced by President Bush as he struggled to describe how the U.S. economy was not in a recession since the GDP had not declined for two consecutive quarters, the traditional definition of a recession, even though jobs were being shed by the millions and the global banking system teetered on the brink of collapse. Now we have President Obama, attempting to describe how the U.S. economy has emerged out of a recession, though the collateral damage in terms of the evaporation of wealth, mortgages, and jobs remains apparently undaunted and unabated.

The regional or global transfer of wealth, power and influence, the destruction of entire industries and the so-called collateral (or human) damage are all hallmarks of what is now being experienced in the West.

If one carefully disassembles the events of the last decade or two, you can see them as the almost inevitable conclusion of a nameless war that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the embrace of a form of the free-market system by China, India and the other rising states, an almost unprecedented transfer of wealth from the Western Economies to the Middle East (energy) and South and East Asia (manufactured goods and services), and the substantial transfer of political power and influence that  inevitably follows.

It currently appears that the Western Powers most affected by these transfers cannot adequately explain, or even understand, their present circumstances in a way that makes sense to the citizenry, let alone actually reverse (or even impede) the course of history. In fact, the larger events are playing out while the affected societies seemingly default to the hope that they ultimately can exert some sort of control over a reality that appears to be both out of their grasp and control.

The good news here is that the transfers of wealth, power and influence has proven relatively bloodless but nonetheless destructive for the hundreds of millions of those on the front lines of the economic dislocations.

And it is in this context that the perceived resentment of the Islamic and Arab states should be more clearly viewed. This is especially so as they, too, watch helplessly as the new global reality and re-alignments unfold.

In conclusion, it can be argued that the reason the “Great Recession” label doesn’t seem to fit now is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather an on-going transformational event involving the global transfer of wealth, power and influence on an unprecedented level, carried out “by other means”.

Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Edward ML Peters is CEO of Dallas-based OpenConnect Systems. Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.



Healthcare Reform Effort Falters as NarrativeTracker Projected

Social Media and Internet Analysis Presage Future Directions in Healthcare Reform

DALLAS & AUSTIN, Texas – September 28, 2010 – The Healthcare Reform effort has faltered in the public mind as projected by the Healthcare NarrativeTracker™ Index (HNTI™) over the last several months. The results of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index were reported over the previous four months in a series of joint announcements by OpenConnect, the Dallas-based leader in process intelligence and analytics solutions, and Austin-based Global Language Monitor, the media analytics company.

For more information about GLM’s Narrative Tracking and Business Intelligences call 1.512.815.8836 or email pjjp@post.harvard.edu.

“It seems that healthcare reform was never really ‘Paid For’ as promised to the American people. The unfortunate reality is one of sharply rising premiums, severely reduced options for coverage and continued out-of-control spending,” said Edward M.L. Peters, CEO of OpenConnect. “The only way to solve this problem is through a comprehensive cost improvement program that focuses on all sectors of the healthcare industry. Saving just $.04 on every healthcare dollar would yield more than enough savings to make this program truly ‘Paid For’ without raising taxes, reducing benefits or cutting reimbursements for services.”

Since being launched earlier this spring, the Healthcare Narrative Tracker Index has found:

  • Growing concern regarding out-of-control cost increases. Analyses now show that the original cost projections have risen even more steeply as insurance companies race ahead to enact changes in their plans and rises in the price of premiums ahead of implementation.
  • Increasing national concern about the inability to keep one’s current insurance. This in spite of the president’s oft-stated assertion that “if you like your current health insurance plan, you will be able to keep it.”

Though the President’s statement is technically true, it is now evident that many of those same plans are now being altered, eliminated, or priced out of reach of their current customers. Therefore, according to HNTI, the president’s statement is viewed with deep suspicion.

  • Sharply rising concern about adding to the deficit. President Barack Obama repeatedly asserted during the healthcare debate that the overhaul legislation would bring down fast-rising health care costs and save money – and not add a penny to the deficit.
  • At a recent press conference, President Obama offered some caveats when asked about the apparent discrepancy between his promises and the current reality of rising premiums and prices. For example, Medicare’s Office of the Actuary confirmed that healthcare costs would continue to rise, at least through 2019. However, the Congressional Budget Office has recently reaffirmed its earlier finding that the Healthcare Reform effort will reduce the deficit in the long-run. Nevertheless, in contradiction to these statements, the HNTI has been ahead of the curve in tracking public perception as well as the future trajectory of the issue.

In a related development, the US Census Bureau announced earlier this week that the number of uninsured Americans grew to 50.7 million in 2009, now 16.7% of the population, rising from 46.3 million and 15.4% in 2008. Also noted was the decline in number of insured through their employer, falling from 176.3 million to 169.7 million in 2009. If this trend continues through 2010 and into 2011, it will only exacerbate the problem of funding the Healthcare Reform effort, since there will be significantly fewer people to help fund the mandate.

“The value of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index clearly extends to its predictive ability,” said Dave Hill, long-time industry observer and principle of Mesabi Associates, the Massachusetts-based technology consulting firm. “Including social media in the mix of Internet and electronic and print media sources provides a very clear (and accurate) snapshot of what the people are actually thinking. The predictive element only adds to the Healthcare NarrativeTracker’s power.”

The Healthcare NTI is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

In a separate release tracking the Top Political Buzzwords of the Mid-term elections, the Global Language Monitor has found that Healthcare Reform-related buzzwords have fallen sharply and now rank at No. 21 on the list, while No. 13 Deficit Spending, No. 15 Out-of-control Spending, and No. 17 Healthcare Mandate are in ascendance.

Not a Recession but a Global Economic Restructuring …

Summary:  What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level.  (This article, which appeared in a slightly differing form earlier this year, is written by Paul JJ Payack and Edward ML Peters.)

Austin, Texas, September 7, 2010 — Originally alluded to as a ‘Financial Tsunami’ or ‘Financial Meltdown,’ the major global media continue to call our current economic condition  ‘The Great Recession’.  In the beginning, most comparisons were being made to the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s, more familiarly known, simply, as ‘The Depression’ in the same way that many still refer to World War II as ‘The War’.  But even these comparisons frequently ended up referring to the recession of 1982, yet another so-called ‘Great Recession’.

The difficulty here stems from the fact that this economic crisis is difficult to express in words because it does not resemble any economic crisis of the past — but rather a crisis of another sort.

In On War, one of the most influential books on military strategy of all time, the Prussian career soldier Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831) stated one of his most respected tenets, “War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means,” which is frequently abbreviated to “War is diplomacy carried out by other means’ and by other rules than those of the political and financial norm of the recent past.

We believe that the reason the “Great Recession” label doesn’t fit now is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out ‘by other means’ and by other rules than those of the political and financial norm of the recent past.

This fact is entrapping two US presidents, from radically diverging political viewpoints, in the same dilemma:  describing an economic phenomenon, that doesn’t play by the old rules.  Therefore the difficulty experienced by President Bush as he struggled to describe how the US economy was not in a recession since the GDP had not declined for two consecutive quarters, the traditional definition of a recession, even though jobs were being shed by the millions and the global banking system teetered on the brink of collapse.  Now we have President Obama, attempting to describe how the US economy is emerging out of a recession, though the collateral damage in terms of the evaporation of wealth, mortgages, and jobs remains apparently undaunted and unabated.

The regional or global transfer of wealth, power and influence, the destruction of entire industries and the so-called collateral (or human) damage are all hallmarks of what is now being experienced in the West.

If you carefully disassemble the events of the last decade or two, one can see them as the almost inevitable conclusion of a nameless war that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the embrace of a form of the free-market system by China, India and the other rising states, an almost unprecedented transfer of wealth from the Western Economies to the Middle East (Energy) and South and East Asia (manufactured good and services), and the substantial transfer of political power and influence that  inevitably follows.

It currently appears that the Western Powers most affected by these transfers cannot adequately understand, or even explain, their present circumstances in a way that makes sense to the citizenry, let alone actually reverse (or even impede) the course of history.  In fact the larger realities are playing out while the affected societies seemingly default to the hope that they ultimately can exert some sort of control over a reality that is out of their grasp and control.

The good news here is that the transfers of wealth, power and influence has proven relatively bloodless but nonetheless destructive for the hundreds of millions of those on the front lines of the economic dislocations.

And it is in this context that the perceived resentment of the Islamic and Arab states should be more clearly viewed.  This is especially so as they watch helplessly as the new global reality and re-alignments unfold.

In conclusion, it can be argued that the difficulty in naming the current economic crisis is the fact that is not an economic crisis at all but rather a transformational event involving the global transfer of wealth, power and influence, the destruction of entire industries along with the associated collateral (or human) damage.

[Read More.]



Widespread Concern about Keeping One’s Insurance & Rising Costs

According to Healthcare NarrativeTracker™

Social Media and Internet Citations More than Double in 90 Days

DALLAS & AUSTIN, Texas (August 17, 2010) — The Healthcare NarrativeTracker™ has found a sharply rising national concern about keeping one’s insurance and rising healthcare costs in light of the regulations associated with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The new results of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index™ (NTI™) were reported earlier today by OpenConnect, the leader process intelligence and analytics solutions, and The Global Language Monitor, the media analytics company.

The NTI has found that the number of social media and Internet citations are significantly diverging among those who cite healthcare price and premium increases vs. those citing lower costs and premiums decreasing. For example the price and premium percentage increase is now nearly double the percentage (188%) for price and premiums decreasing.

In addition, the analysis indicates that the number of social media and Internet citations regarding ‘keeping one’s insurance’ vs. ‘losing one’s insurance’ have also diverged significantly, especially over the last ninety days, with the citations for ‘losing one’s insurance’ increasing some 1160% over the period.

“The numbers in the Healthcare NarrativeTracker are widely supported by the polls, the surveys, and the media,” said Edward M.L. Peters, CEO of OpenConnect and author of The Paid-for Option, which describes how only through the application of innovation and technology can productivity be achieved in the healthcare industry. “The predictive element of the Healthcare NTI has correctly foreshadowed this shift in public sentiment; it will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the run-up to the mid-term elections.”

On August 3, voters in Missouri overwhelmingly (71%) supported a state measure barring the federal government from penalizing those who do not acquire health insurance – a key measure for funding the Obama Healthcare Reform plan. Other evidence indicates that support for Healthcare reform is flagging. According to the Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll “shows erosion in the intensity of support. Last month, 23 percent of Americans held ‘very favorable’ views of the law. This month, that figure is 14 percent, with most of the falloff coming among Democrats (Republicans and independents already being skeptical).” Other polling reinforces these views.

The Healthcare NTI™ is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

The Healthcare NTI is released monthly. The first analysis completed in May 2010 detailed the various narratives surrounding Massachusetts Healthcare reform, a healthcare model which has been adopted in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as the national healthcare reform bill.

About OpenConnect:   OpenConnect is the leader in process intelligence and analytics solutions that automatically discover workforce, process and customer variations that hinder operational efficiency. Armed with this information, executives can make the quick and incremental improvements that will increase process efficiency, improve employee productivity, reduce cost, and raise profitability. With a rich history of developing innovative technology, OpenConnect products are distributed in more than 60 countries and used by more than 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies. For more information on OpenConnect, visit www.oc.com.

About the Global Language Monitor:   Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English. Since 2003, GLM has launched a number of innovative products and services monitoring the Internet, the Blogosphere, Social Media as well as the Top 25,000 print and electronic media sites

For more information, call 1.925.367.7557, email editor@GlobalLanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.

 

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Healthcare NarrativeTracker Detects Growing Concern about Containing Costs

Keeping Costs Low vs. Rising Costs

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DALLAS & AUSTIN, Texas, July 7, 2010The Healthcare NarrativeTracker™ has detected a growing wave of concern throughout the nation about containing rising Healthcare costs. The catalyst stems from the new regulations being now written to implement The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. At this point the affordability issue is coalescing around the President Obama’s oft-stated pledge that you can keep current Health Insurance plans if you so choose.  As M.I.T. health economist Jonathan Gruber recently stated, “It’s unclear that companies will want to have the same insurance plan in 2014 that they have in 2010.”

These facts have not gone unnoticed by the public and are considered by many to be a significant turnaround from earlier analyses, where people took at face value the President’s oft-stated words: “If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period.” Obama declared in a speech to the American Medical Association last June, “No one will take it away, no matter what.” In fact, the New York Times recently reported that the government calculates that while 70 percent of small-business plans will remain grandfathered in 2011 that number will drop to 34 percent in 2013. Apparently, even the routine changes that occur every year as employers search for better products can be defined as changing the plan enough to obviate the provision that allows you to keep your current insurance, potentially leading to increasing costs for employer and employee alike.

Subsequent analysis of the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter) has shown that the public is aware of this shift. The results of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index™ (NTI™) were reported by OpenConnect, the leading company in event-driven intelligence solutions, and The Global Language Monitor, the media analytics company.

“Policies need to be evaluated by the effect they will have on the cost incurred with their implementation. The economics of healthcare reform need to be based on changes that help pay for themselves rather than make the problem worse. Only by realizing the type of efficiencies that have kept America in the forefront of world economic growth for the past century and a half will we be able to keep costs under current projections. All that is necessary is to summon the courage to make the tough choices ahead,” said Edward M.L. Peters, CEO of OpenConnect and author of The Paid-for Option, which details the methodology that has proven effective in the healthcare industry.

The Healthcare NarrativeTracker has detected rising concern about price increases perceived to be associated with the implementation of yet-to-be written regulations. The public is well-aware of the overall trillion dollar cost of the program, as well as associated costs, such as the so-called ‘Doc Fix’ not directly counted with the Healthcare Reform effort budget.

In the first three months of this year, conversations about keeping the price of insurance low were exceeded by conversations with those concerned about the rising costs of their healthcare by some 40%.

In the same manner, in the first three months of this year, conversations about keeping one’s insurance were surpassed by those about losing their insurance by some 54%. For the first six months of this year, the conversations about keeping one’s insurance were surpassed by those about losing their insurance by some 43% but with volume of the conversations increasing over 11,200%.

In summation, the media discussion resonating throughout the Internet, blogosphere and social media is driving the online discussion and conversations. This is particularly true when such narratives are being driven by articles such as those written by Dr. Marc Siegel who concludes, “the regulations impose a major vise on private insurance, restricting a company’s ability to increase cost sharing (such as coinsurance, deductibles and out-of pocket limits) as well as copayments (“more than the sum of medical inflation plus 15 percentage points or $5 increased by medical inflation”). So it is unlikely that many insurers will be able to remain viable without raising premiums (not restricted by the regulations) or slashing services.”

The NarrativeTracker Index is the first product specifically designed to use social media-based monitoring to better understand the issues driving healthcare reform. Because the Healthcare NTI is based on the national discourse, it provides a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the opinions surrounding a single issue.

The NTI is based on the GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator™ (PQI™). The PQI tracks the frequency of words and phrases in global print and electronic media on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere and other social media outlets as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted index that factors in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.

The Healthcare NTI is released monthly. The first analysis completed in May 2010 details the various narratives surrounding Massachusetts Healthcare reform, a healthcare model which has been adopted in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as the national healthcare reform bill.



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